Properties And Applications of Gallium

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Gallium is a chemical compound discovered by a Russian chemist named Mendeleev in 1871. Later, a French chemist, Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbaurdan (also), confirmed that the missing element between Aluminum and Indium was Gallium.

It is a soft silvery metal that turns to liquid at near room temperature. Due to its extremely low melting point compared to other metals, it is used to make low-melting points alloys. However, it is not as toxic as other class metals like Mercury, Cesium, and Rubidium. Since Gallium is produced as a by-product of metallic ore processing, it is relatively expensive. You can check out the gallium price at Alibaba.

Chemical Properties of Gallium

  • Gallium doesn’t exist naturally and is obtained by smelting. Significant sources of Gallium are Zinc ores and Bauxite.
  • Pure Gallium is a soft metal with a silvery blue color.
  • Unlike other metals in its group, Gallium turns to liquid at room temperate. That is why it is commonly used in thermometers and barometers. Its melting point is 29.767 °C.
  • Gallium expands by around 3% when it solidifies, so storing it in glass or other fragile containers is unsafe.
  • It has a low vapor pressure for a wide range of temperatures. Also, it rapidly reacts with strong acids and produces Gallium salts like Gallium Nitrates.
  • It combines with other metals to form binary compounds like Arsenic and Antimony, which have significant conducting properties.
  • Exposing Gallium to higher temperatures exhibits toxic fumes, which make corrosive alkaline solutions with water.

Common Applications of Gallium

Mirror Making

Gallium is used in making mirrors because it has good wetting properties. It is mainly used for wetting porcelain to make brilliant mirrors. Moreover, it is also used in mirror restoration and polishing as it melts to form a reflective silvery liquid.

Lowering Melting Points of Alloys

Gallium alters the metallic lattice of various metals, lowering their melting points. For instance, Gallium is reacted with steel to reduce the melting point of the metal while preserving its strength.

Medical Uses

Gallium also finds its applications in medicine. Both radioactive and stable Gallium compounds work as diagnosing agents of cancer and other bone metabolism disorders. Some researchers also believe it may contain the cure for various cancerous and inflammatory ailments.

Moreover, the compound also exhibits anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties for eliminating pathogens.

Thermometers

Gallium has a low melting point, which is why it is used to make thermometers for measuring high temperatures.

Semiconductors

Gallium reacts with Arsenide to form Gallium Arsenide, which is a binary compound with semiconducting properties.

Gallium Arsenide is a chief component in making light-emitting diodes, Integrated Circuits, and other computer semiconductor chips. It is also used in TV, radio, satellite, and other electronic devices to prevent overheating.

Lubrications

Gallium is added to glide wax for skis and sledges to minimize the friction between their bases and the snow.

The Bottom Line

Gallium is a metal existing between Aluminum and Indium. It is not present naturally in Earth’s crust but extracted from Zinc ores and Bauxite. Therefore, its availability depends upon the extraction rate of these elements.

The compound has various applications. For instance, it works against pathogenic diseases, makes semiconductor chips, and is used for mirror polishing. It also reduces friction in skis and produces low-melting points alloys. On the downside, Gallium releases harmful fumes when mixed with water. Also, injecting higher doses of Gallium salts make an insoluble hydroxide whose precipitation creates toxins in animal bodies.

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